• Beekeeper John

    About the writer: John Kirk is an avid gamer, a writer, a student, and apparently likes writing in third person.

    I’m 22 summers old and a student at Rowan University, studying journalism. I’m from “South Jersey” for those who understand, New Jersey to those that don’t....Read more on the About Page....

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Looking for your new (or used) hive!

So around this time of the year is when aspiring beekeepers and those looking to expand their colonies should start looking for equipment. I’m talking hive bodies, bottom boards, and everything else that goes with them.

Now there are two different ways to go about getting a home for your girls. First you could order an entire hive from either a local supplier or an online store such as Rossman Apiaries or Better Bee.

Or you could try to do what I’m trying this season, and ask around your local beekeeping community and see if anyone is either getting rid of, or trying to sell some of their old hives off.

Just because someone is selling their hives or getting rid of old equipment doesn’t mean that it is of poor quality or a worse choice then say buying new. Usually it means that they my be getting older or are becoming busier in their lives and selling their hives to aspiring beekeepers will ensure that their hives are going to a good cause.

As with anything, when buying things from peers in your community you always want to check it for damage and ask about its history, just because you are pursuing the same hobby as they are doesn’t mean that their equipment is up to par or ever kept in great shape.

Some of the benefits are that if you get someone willing to sell you the entire hive and all its frames are: you will be getting some really valuable already drawn out comb, and they may be willing to sell to you cheaper if they learn you are a beginner beekeeper and just because you are in the certain close-knit family that beekeeping breeds. Just remember that already drawn out comb means your honeybees will have much much less work when you hive them in the early spring. This will lead them to start producing more honey and brood!

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Becoming a Backyard Beekeeper: Part 2

 

Back again is my running series on how to become a backyard beekeeper! How about a refresher on what I covered last time?

Dad Holding Bees

My dad holds a beautiful frame from the upper deep

Part one was about finding a location for your hive, reading and researching everything you can find that has to do with becoming a beekeeper, and beekeeping resources such as websites and your local beekeeping association.

Now to begin part two….

Part 2: Choosing Your Hive.

Now that have done your research on honeybees and found a great spot to place your hive, the time to order a home for your future bees has come. When it comes to types of hives there are a few and depending where you live and how you’ll be doing your beekeeping. Although there are many differing styles and preferences among the worlds beekeepers, I will only be referencing the two that I feel are the most practical.

Types of hives:

  • Langstroth hive– The standard for 75% of the worlds beekeepers, the Langstroth hive is probably the most recognized of all movable frame hives. It consists of standardized sizes of hive bodies (rectangular boxes without tops or bottoms placed one on top of another) and frames in order to yield a large place for bees to live and draw out comb for brood production and pollen and honey storage.

Hive Placement

My hive is a Langstroth hive

Pros:

-Yields great deal of honey.

-Vertical stacking of boxes means small foot print

-Can be used anywhere the beekeeper wishes, i.e., small gardens, big backyards, rooftops, etc…

Cons:

-Heavy lifting when hive bodies are full of brood, bees, and honey

-Bees have to use ready-made wax foundation put in by the beekeeper that could be contaminated, thus contaminating the honey and wax crop

-The killing of some bees is inevitable when replacing frames, hive bodies, and the inner and outer covers.

  • Top-bar hive- The top-bar hive or Kenya hive is a hive designed more with the bees in mind. It uses a series of wooden bars set parallel to each other over top of a trapezoid-like, sloped-sided hive box. The top-bar hive is not a vertical one as the Langstroth is, in fact it’s the total opposite in the sense that it spreads out horizontally. Its intended focus is for more use in providing a cheap means of beekeeping where resources might be scarce, such as developing countries. However, it is gaining a following in industrialized countries as a means of providing the honey bee’s an all organic place to live and make honey.

Video provided by ecoversity, features the inspection of a top-bar hive.

Pros:

-Yields a lot more wax than the Langstroth hive

-Is a hybrid hive providing natural comb production but also manipulation of frames for gathering of a honey crop

-No heavy movable hive bodies, complex parts, or steps to hive expansion

-Ease of inspection excites beginner beekeeper, and disturbs bees far less than that of a Langstroth hive

Cons:

-Only two methods of honey extraction: Crush comb, in which the totality of the comb with the honey on it is cut off the bar and crushed and sieved through a strainer to get the majority of the honey out, and Cut Comb, where the whole comb is cut off and eaten as such

-Not thought to be ideal for climates with harsh winters seeing as the bottom of the hive is often only covered with a screen and not a full bottom board.

-Significantly less honey production than a Langstroth hive

-Takes up more room that the vertical Langstroth hive

Whichever hive you deicde to choose just keep in mind that there are others, however they are all mostly similar to the look and construction of the Langstroth hive, just differing in size, bee space, and number of frames.

Also keep in mind which hive best suit’s your needs and space arrangement.

I happened to order my hive from the folks at Better Bee. Although, that was before I found all the different sites selling all different kind of hives. Such as Rossman Apiaries who sell a cypress hive that is said to last long and hold paint better than the traditional eastern pine hives. I’m definitely looking at those for my next hive.

Well, thats all the posting I have for tonight, spread the word of backyard beekeeping and stay on the look out for another post soon!